Warning: Spoilers for season 3 follow.
Main Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Tom Cavanagh
Created by: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns
Opening Narration: “After defeating Zoom and saving the multiverse, I ran back in time and created the alternate timeline,”Flashpoint”. I restored the timeline to how it was, only to find things weren’t as I left them. I brought new threats to our world, and I’m the only one fast enough to stop them. I am the Flash.” – “Paradox” (Season 3, Episode 2)
The Flash was one of the best series in the Arrowverse. It featured goofy superhero stories, costumed crooks, and avoided being campy. The Flash even managed to balance time travel and the multiverse. But things have changed with the adaptation of an infamous storyline and a darker tone. Can The Flash keep up the pace, or will he crash and burn? Let’s find out.
Thawne: “You know what you have to do. You have to take me back to that night and let me finish what I started.”
Barry: “You go to hell!”
Thawne: “You’re taking both of us there! Now who’s the villain, Flash? NOW who’s the villain?!” – “Flashpoint” (Season 3, Episode 1)
The Flash’s third season starts with the famous story “Flashpoint” retconning a large chunk of the Arrowverse. The short version:
In the final moments of season 2, Barry Allen traveled back in time and stopped Reverse Flash from killing his mother. This creates an alternate world later called Flashpoint. One change is that Barry, abandoned as a child, grows up with his parents.
Barry begins losing his memories of the original universe. When an evil speedster mortally wounds Kid Flash, Barry realizes he has to undo Flashpoint. He travels back in time and allows the Reverse Flash to kill his mother.
The original timeline is restored, but with several interesting twists. The West family is estranged and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) hates Barry for refusing to use time travel to save his brother, who died as a consequence of Flashpoint. The biggest change is that Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) gains ice powers and an evil split personality called Killer Frost.
[Flash and Kid Flash prepare to race]
Barry: “Wally. Man, this isn’t about winning or losing, okay? This is about training. So you can get faster and beat Savitar and save Iris.”
Wally: [serious] “Yeah. Which I’m gonna do.”
Wally: [back to enthused] “But first I’m gonna make you eat my dust. I’m sorry.”
Barry: “Okay, you know there is a reason they call me “The Fastest Man Alive”. – “Unstoppable” (Season 3, Episode 12)
Flash ain’t the only speedster in town anymore. During season two’s finale a pair of teenagers are struck by a wave of dark matter, causing them to develop super speed.
Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) was introduced in season two as the long lost son of Flash’s adoptive family. After gaining powers he became a sidekick called Kid Flash. He starts off reckless and cocky, but eventually calms down. Several characters imply he could eventually surpass The Flash.
The second speedster is Jesse Quick (Violett Beane), the daughter of scientist Harry Wells (Tom Cavanagh). She is from the parallel universe Earth-2 and was kidnapped by Zoom in season two. She appears less frequently than Kid Flash, often only showing up as last minute cavalry.
Speedsters aren’t the only new additions to the team. Harry Wells returns to Earth-2 to help the team find his replacement, H.R. Wells, a hipster and self proclaimed idea man. Sleepy Hollow’s Jessica Camacho plays Gypsy, an inter-dimensional bounty hunter who falls in love with Cisco.
Light in the Darkness
Barry: “We might need her for Grodd.”
Julian: “Grodd? [realizing] Telepathic gorilla?”
Julian: “Where are you going? Are you going to the Planet of the Apes?”
Barry: “No, it’s just a… city of them. Will you cover for me?”- “Attack on Gorilla City” (Season 3, Episode 13)
An occasional light hearted episode happens during the third season even while the overall tone darkens. One example is the two part “Attack on Gorilla City”, where team Flash travels to Earth-2 to rescue Harry Wells. They find him in the Gorilla City, a hidden city populated by intelligent, telepathic gorillas. So yeah, City of the Apes. In the small world department, recurring character Julian is played by Tom Felton, who was also in the Planet of the Apes reboot.
How about a musical if telepathic apes aren’t your cup of tea?
The Flash and Supergirl crossover in the episode “Duet”. Flash (Grant Gustin) and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) are trapped in a musical world with a third Glee alum, Darren Criss, as the enigmatic Music Meister. The pair encounter several Arrowverse alumni as they try to escape the musical, singing all the way.
Languish in Anguish
[Flash has traveled into the future to learn how to stop Savitar]
2024 Barry: “You want answers, Barry? How’s this? You will go back. You will do everything that you can think of to save her. You’re even gonna create Time Remnants of yourself, but he’s gonna kill them all mostly. And then on the night of May 23rd… Iris West will die in your arms.”
2024 Barry: “And in that moment when she takes her last breath, it’ll feel like an eternity. And it will break you. She’s the love of your life, Barry. She was the love of my life. [sinks into a corner] There’ll be nothing left but stopping Savitar. So no, you won’t be there for Joe. You won’t be there when Caitlin becomes Killer Frost. And Savitar destroys Wally. You won’t be there for any of ’em.” – “The Once and Future Flash” (Season 3, Episode 19)
Throughout season 3 Flash battles Savitar, the self proclaimed God of Speed. One battle ends with Flash accidentally being flung into the future, where he sees Savitar murder his lover, Iris West. He returns to the past and plots to stop Savitar before Iris is killed.
The second half of the season is rife with Team Flash angsting about whether they can change the future. Their whining might be tolerable if Flash hadn’t already altered the future numerous times. This robs the series of life as every plan or strategy fails and the whinging continues.
Whodunnit? You told us already.
Savitar: “Like I told you from the beginning… I am the Future Flash.” – “I Know Who You Are” (Season 3, Episode 20)
Savitar’s identity is the season’s main mystery. Unlike the first two seasons this mystery gets stretched out until the last few episodes. And it gets really annoying when Savitar coyly tells the cast who he is several times while hiding his identity in plain sight.
Savitar monologues while beating up the Flash in their first fight. He mentions how Flash is the past before saying “I am the future, Flash.” This could easily be dismissed as a boast, but a future episode confirms the truth.
A psychic links with Savitar so the team can interrogate him. Flash asks who Savitar really is. The telepath, acting as Savitar’s avatar, glares at the camera and declares “I am the future Flash”, not even pausing for the implicit comma or the horrendous rhyming of Savatar’s avatar.
A mystery is no fun when you know the answer almost from the start. It changes the story from whodunnit to howdunnit, which is far less interesting. The revelation that Savitar is the Future Flash turns the season finale into a temporal fustercluck that makes less sense than the worst Doctor Who episodes.
The Flash hit a major stumbling block in season three. The show started strong with the game changer Flashpoint and the addition of new heroes. The ruined mystery and relentless melodrama make the second half of the season a chore to watch compared with the great superhero show of the past two seasons.
Season 3 of The Flash was a misfire, but perhaps season 4 will give the show a much needed boost it needs. That’s a review for another time.
The Flash – Season 3 is currently streaming on Netflix and Season 5 premiered October 9th on the CW.